What We’ll Learn In The Transfer Window

Will Wilfried Bony to Man City be the biggest Premier League transfer this month?

Will Wilfried Bony to Man City be the biggest Premier League transfer this month?

A little change of pace this month, as we look ahead to what will happen during the transfer window. And as we all know transfers and the accompanying rumour mill with it’s glorious highs and crushing lows is far superior to the drudgery of actual football. Handily because nothing really happens until the last few weeks my tardiness isn’t that much of an issue.

 

Premier League Outright Betting Odds:

Chelsea 3/5

Manchester City 3/2

Manchester United 18/1

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

One thing (at the time of writing) that might possible already have happened/be in the process of happening is the transfer of Wilfried Bony to Manchester City. A devastatingly direct attacker with a deft first touch and a fierce strike, he can’t be anything other than great. His on-pitch time will be dependent on Sergio Aguero and his hamstrings but they’re made of rubber bands so Bony should get plenty of chances to impress.

On the other side of the city Louis van Gaal will do whatever he damn well likes. However he should probably look into sorting a defence that is, well it has, I mean…….it’s a bit crap really. He’s already brought in Victor Valdes, and might follow that up by buying his countryman Ron Vlaar who once got a 2! (out of 10!) for me on Football Manager. Make of that what you will (as I type this he’s just been ruled out for 4 weeks but I have a word count to hit so he’s staying in the article)

 

Arsenal will do what Arsenal do, there will be opinion pieces, banners and possibly some booing. At the end of it Arsenal will finish fourth and every single one of us will be ever so slightly closer to the blessed release of death.

Chelsea have completed the ‘transfers’ level of football so unless they fancy trying to beat their own high score we can ignore them during January.

 

Tottenham will sign a midfielder. He’ll pretend to be good for a bit, then it’ll turn out he’s rubbish. Aaron Lennon might leave, possibly for QPR where………..

*insert your own ‘dawwnn to the bare bones’ Harry Redknapp joke here*

 

Aston Villa are obviously far too boring for any of us to care about. Even if they do sign someone mildly interesting that poor soul will be subsumed by the overwhelming force of mediocrity that resides at Villa Park.

Nobody knows who is in charge of transfers at West Ham but let’s hope it’s the new fun loving version of Big Sam and he brings in Jay Jay Okocha, you know just for old times sake. Oh and they’ll sell Winston Reid to someone, maybe Arsenal.

 

The Anfield transfer committee will gather round the table, amalgamate their thoughts, you know some real blue sky thinking ‘there’s no such thing as a bad idea here, this is a safe space where we reshape the rules and turn dreams into reality’ and decide to spend twenty million quid on a center back who somehow manages to make their defence worse. Liverpool might try and punt Mario, but he’s performing so admirably in the role of scapegoat that that would surely be a grave error.

 

Southampton will sell someone who isn’t as good as people think he is for more money than he’s worth and will replace him with a better player from the Netherlands, their youth team or Celtic.

The only Leicester player I know is Esteban Cambiasso so it’s very hard for me to take much of a guess at their transfer activity. I’ll save any embarrassment by not bothering.

 

Stoke might sell Peter Crouch to West Brom now that Tony Pulis is in charge. I might make veggie burgers for tea tomorrow.

Now that he’s swapped Newcastle for Palace Alan Pardew will celebrate not being forced to exclusively sign French players with high sell on value by signing someone quintessentially English with no sell on value. Possibly the Queen, or some sort of Duke.

 

All I’ve got to say about Sunderland is that my mate met Gus Poyet once, I forgot to ask what he was like. I bet he’s a dick.

Everton should sign a defensive coach but they’ll probably sign someone from Wigan, Shaun Maloney maybe.

 

Burnley will continue their attempt to prove that a Championship team full of Championship players can survive in the Premier League by signing a Championship player.

Going to level with you here – I’m writing this on a train and my stop is coming up. So if I’ve forgotten your team then I’m sorry but you’re just not important enough (sorry Hull fans – ed.).

 

Follow me on Twitter where I occasionally RT something funny

 

Betting Instinct tip – with few transfers likely to go through before this weekend’s games, back a London treble: Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all to win is 3.59 with AllYouBet.ag.

 

Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF is a freelance football writer and editor of All or Nothing magazine. Sometimes even he can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Follow Ally on Twitter and maybe he’ll be your friend.

Resurgent Lukaku can help Everton shock Man City

Has Romelu Lukaku rediscovered his goalscoring touch?

Has Romelu Lukaku rediscovered his goalscoring touch?

The first half of this season has not been kind to Romelu Lukaku. Everton’s record signing, purchased for £28m from Chelsea over the summer, has failed to hit the heights of the last two seasons, when back-to-back 15-goal hauls pushed him towards the top of the Premier League’s goalscoring charts.

As the Belgian has struggled, so have his club. The Toffees’ 21-point total is 17 shy of this time last season, and Roberto Martinez’s side have scored three fewer goals than in their first 20 games last campaign while conceding 14 more. An FA Cup third round exit looked set to add to the club’s misery, however a stoppage time equaliser from Lukaku earned a replay against West Ham United. Perhaps it can spark a turnaround for both player and club, ahead of this weekend’s fixture against Manchester City.

Everton v Manchester City Betting Odds:

Everton win 16/5

Manchester City win 4/5

Draw 12/5

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

All logic points towards a comfortable away win at Goodison Park on Saturday. The Merseyside club have lost their last four league games and five of the last six, the only exception being a home victory over a QPR side that has lost all nine of its away games this campaign. Indeed they were beaten 1-0 by this weekend’s opponents at the start of that six-game run, with a Yaya Touré penalty the difference.

City, in contrast, have shaken off the absence through injury of top scorer Sergio Agüero, picking up an impressive 29 points out of a possible 33 since the start of November. However this weekend they will be without Touré as well as Agüero, with the Ivorian having joined up with his national side in Equatorial Guinea for the Africa Cup of Nations.

With a forward-line stretched by injuries in recent weeks (Edin Džeko is still absent, while Stevan Jovetić has only recently returned from a spell on the sidelines), City have been grateful for their captain’s goals from midfield: Touré has found the net in four of the last six games, and the absence of him, Džeko and Agüero means that the scorers of more than half of the club’s 44 league goals will be unavailable for the trip to Merseyside.

Touré’s international team-mate Wilfried Bony is seemingly poised to move to the Etihad, and his arrival will surely help City’s title challenge in the latter part of the season, but for now this weekend’s fixture could prove challenging. Everton have injuries of their own to contend with, not least the calf problem that continues to rule out goalkeeper Tim Howard, but they finally have options up front with Lukaku, Samuel Eto’o and Arouna Koné all available for selection.

While Martinez’s side does not have too enviable a home record – just 12 points accrued and 15 goals conceded – they have lost just once at Goodison Park since September, and that came courtesy of a Bojan penalty for Stoke City.

If Lukaku can build on Tuesday’s crucial goal, with the support of his team mates, then he could help kickstart his club’s season while handing former employers Chelsea a huge boost in the race for the title.

Betting Instinct tip – Everton to win or draw is 9/10 with AllYouBet.ag

tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter.

Reborn Manchester City threaten to flatten struggling Everton

Can the returning Eliaquim Mangala keep out Romelu Lukaku?

Can the returning Eliaquim Mangala keep out Romelu Lukaku?

After months of under-par struggling that has baffled supporters, pundits, and – you suspect – Manuel Pellegrini himself Manchester City seem finally to have found the high gears that secured them the title last season.

Their slick passing and fluid movement has returned, and a quartet of consecutive victories – two of which laid to rest long-standing ‘bogey’ fixtures – have hauled them back to within striking distance of a Chelsea side that seem incapable of losing.

 

Manchester City v Everton Betting Odds:

Manchester City win 1/2

Everton win 5/1

Draw 3/1

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The sensational form of Sergio Aguero aside it is difficult to pinpoint what has caused this dramatic turnaround but evidence lends itself to a team spirit rediscovered as they trailed to Bayern Munich with just minutes to go during their last Champion’s League encounter. The free-scoring Argentine may have bagged an impressive hat-trick that evening – prompting accusations of City being a one-man side – but the collective energy, fight, and pride that coursed through the Etihad on the final whistle acted as a release valve on months of pent-up frustration. City suddenly remembered who they were, what they are capable of and, most importantly, how to set about dismantling opposition with lethal disdain.

Southampton and Sunderland both suffered the ensuing backlash and it’s logical to assume Everton will be similarly punished this Saturday teatime especially in light of the Toffees’ own prolonged dip in form.

 

The visitors, though, boast a very credible record against City. Indeed it wasn’t long ago when they too were considered a bogey team of the current champions, winning nine of the fourteen previous encounters. Defeats both home and away last term appear to have ended that curse and it’s worth noting that the majority of Everton victories were presided over by David Moyes, a man who appeared to take personal exception to City’s fancy ways and consequently fortified his men for battle. At times it was Braveheart vs The Age Of Innocence with the inevitable conclusion being a pumped-up Tim Cahill punching a corner flag in goal celebration.

Under Martinez the Merseysiders have opened up, attempting to play their way through the phases, and this more genteel style is much more in keeping with City’s ideal.

They still possess Romelu Lukaku however, a combination of brawn and touch that will trouble a City rearguard missing their leader Vincent Kompany and the pacy striker will look to exploit any uncertainties in the unfamiliar partnership of Mangala and Demichelis. With McGeady and Mirallas offering intelligent support there’s plenty of scope for Everton to break quick and hard.

 

Dealing with such counters has been City’s Achilles heel this season so it’s critical Pellegrini is brave and starts once more with a rejuvenated Fernandinho in the holding role despite a crucial Champions League showdown with Roma being only four days away. Elsewhere Milner is expected to pip Jovetic for a spot with his forceful endeavour favouring cute flicks to weary a congested Everton midfield.

Where this game may be won tactically resides in which pair of full-backs pins back the other. Both sides are blessed with wingers in all-but-name and should Baines and Colman cede to away etiquette and attempt to keep a solid back four Clichy and Zabaleta – both reborn of late – will surely capitalise and run riot out wide.

 

Then there’s Aguero. A devastating one-man spree of muscle, trickery, and intent ‘Kun’ has exploded into a stratosphere only inhabited by a select handful of sublime talents who seem to have this football lark mastered. So far fourteen goals have been haughtily slotted home and now that his team-mates have raised their game he’s even prepared to help them onto the score-sheet too with three assists in the last two games. All this in addition to his relentless probing and expertly seeking out a yard of space means it’s safe to assume Phil Jagielka will have a sleep-deprived Friday night.

That goes double for Tim Howard who has become a shadow of his former self, uncharacteristically shaky behind a defence who have already shipped in 22 goals this season, more than any other side bar those in genuine relegation plight.

With this in mind Sergio and co must be licking their lips and even without the artful magician Silva pulling the strings and Kompany the warrior leading from the back it’s hard to see past anything other than a continuation of Manchester City’s rebirth.

The wheels are back on the juggernaut and Everton will do well to not be flattened.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Against a porous Everton defence, Manchester City to win both halves is 13/10 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Ste avatar STEPHEN TUDOR is editor of the Daisy Cutter, the football newspaper that only sometimes lies. He also writes  for  Sabotage Times, When Saturday Comes, Late Tackle and others. Follow him on Twitter.

Things We’ll Learn This Month – October

Arsenal's Mesut Özil has underwhelmed as former captain Cesc Fàbregas has impressed at Chelsea. The two square up this weekend

Arsenal’s Mesut Özil has underwhelmed as former captain Cesc Fàbregas has impressed at Chelsea. The two square up this weekend

So we come to October with the Premier League table still in a state of flux, as new signings and new coaching methodologies begin to click into gear there is intrigue wherever you look. Which makes it all the more annoying that there is another one of those international ‘week of football’ things in the middle of the month. Being generous there are possibly three games a human being in charge of their cognitive processes would consider watching, and one of them is Scotland vs Poland. So for the good of all our souls they will not be mentioned here.

 

The first Premier League weekend of October does throw up a few tasty fixtures, most of them are on Sunday though, so you have no excuses not to do something community spirited on Saturday, maybe mow an elderly neighbour’s lawn? On Sunday the oldies can do their own gardening (they love that kind of thing anyway) as we have Louis Van Gaal who continues to channel the spirit of Kevin Keegan (Keegan is not dead – ed.) with his ‘buy loads of great attackers and hope the defence somehow sorts itself’ strategy facing up against Roberto Martinez whose Everton team have gone a bit Wigan this season, there will be goals, there just has to be. After that it’s Arsenal taking their traditional injury crisis on the road to Stamford Bridge where they will receive their traditional spanking from Chelsea, the only difference this time is that they get to have their hearts broken by watching Cesc Fàbregas, their former idol looking really rather good in royal blue.

Betting Instinct tip The Manchester United/Chelsea double is 9/5 with AllYouBet.ag

 

*INTERNATIONAL WEEK KLAXON*

 

With the unpleasantness of European Championship qualifying out of the way for a while it’s not the most exciting set of fixtures to return to. QPR vs Liverpool might be fun, if only to see how Richard Dunne deals with the electrified scampering of Raheem Sterling, you would guess not well.

 

At the end of the month we get to witness the first meeting on English soil of Van Gaal and Mourinho (I can’t be bothered to check if they’ve met on any nationality of soil, to be honest I just don’t care). The one thing missing from the Premier League in recent years is a genuinely bitter managerial rivalry. This is by far our best chance to get back to the peak years where the heavyweight showdowns of Mourinho vs Benitez and Ferguson vs Wenger were box office entertainment. Now that Mourinho has presumably given up on the Manchester United job (remember when they hired David Moyes ahead of him!?) he might finally aim some of his verbal jousts in the direction of the not exactly shy Van Gaal. It promises to be spectacular. Oh and the game might be decent as well.

 

Burnley are in the Premier League apparently, without checking their fixtures I think we can safely assume that they will collect at best one point during October, they are possibly the most Championship side ever to play in the top flight, it’s a miracle Sean Dyche took them up, if he keeps them there he should be made Pope.

 

The standout Champions League tie this month is of course Liverpool entertaining Real Madrid. It’s not been the best of starts for Brendan ‘Brendan’ Rodgers post-Suarez, the defensive cracks covered up by the (possibly) evil Uruguayan are now cavernous in their obviousness and if he’s in the mood you’d expect that Portuguese lad Real have could score about a dozen. Anfield on European nights is often a quite magical spectacle though and this is about as glamorous an opposition as you can get, the old place will be rocking and whilst anything other than a Madrid victory would be considered a massive surprise football isn’t as simple as that. Of course what will actually happen is that Ronaldo will strut about like the prettiest peacock in the zoo, only stopping to batter in a couple of goals and extravagantly ‘shush’ the locals. Also Sterling will play quite well and will then be linked with a move to the Bernabeu for the rest of time.

Betting Instinct tip – Real Madrid to retain the Champions League this season is 7/2 with Intertops.eu

 

In fairness October looks a bit rubbish but it is the month of Halloween so we can look forward to lots of pictures of footballers in fancy dress, which is nice as long as no one ‘blacks up’, I’m looking at you *REDACTED*

 

Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF is a freelance football writer and editor of All or Nothing magazine. Sometimes even he can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Follow Ally on Twitter and maybe he’ll be your friend.

Former Chelsea strikers could come back to haunt Mourinho

Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto'o may feel they have unfinished business against Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o may feel they have unfinished business against Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku will be looking to make his mark against former club Chelsea when his current side goes head to head with the West London outfit this Saturday. Many questioned Mourinho when he sold the exceptionally promising 21 year old to Everton, however with the arrival of Diego Costa after his scintillating season in Spain last year, it makes sense economically for Chelsea and also for the sake of Lukaku’s personal development. The Belgian is yet to get off the mark yet this season and has perhaps looked a little rusty in his opening two games. His ‘replacement’ of sorts has scored in both of his competitive games, helping to win over the Chelsea fans early on in his career in England. Costa’s two goals have – with the greatest respect – only come against newly promoted teams, so it’ll be interesting to see how he copes against a more organised and disciplined defence in the shape of Everton. The likes of Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines have played against the top players the Premier League has to offer for years (with varying success), so we can help gauge how successful the tenacious Costa is likely to be over the rest of the season.

 

Everton v Chelsea Betting Odds:

Everton win – 5/2

Chelsea win – Evens

Draw – 47/20

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Everton also made the move of Gareth Barry permanent after his promising loan spell for The Toffees last season. Though he doesn’t have too many seasons left in the tank, Barry is a dependable and consistent performer who also boasts European and International experience. It must be said, he is more of a ‘7/10′ in most areas, as opposed to being someone who particularly excels at any one part of the game. He managed to bag 3 goals last year (his highest tally for the last 5 seasons), but used to score more freely in his time at Aston Villa and will certainly hope to improve on that this year. Everton’s other acquisitions are 18 year old Brendan Galloway from MK Dons and highly rated Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic, while they were joined last night by another former Chelsea frontman, Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroonian found the net nine times in the Premier League last season, and while at 33 years of age and with no goals away from Stamford Bridge last year,  he will hope to thrive on Merseyside in a similar manner to experienced strikers like Louis Saha in the past.  With Lukaku looking to match or improve upon his 15 league goals last year and Arouna Kone close to a return from injury, a potentially uninspiring transfer window is now looking far more positive for the Toffees.

Unsurprisingly, Chelsea have invested the money made from the extortionate sale of David Luiz and the aforementioned Lukaku. Costa was the real marquee signing, despite last season being his first real prolific campaign in terms of his goal return. Another forward who has already won the Chelsea faithful a thousand times over also returns. Getting Dider Drogba in on a free could turn out to be a spectacular piece of business. He won’t be expected to weigh in with breathtaking performances, but the guidance he can offer to the younger players in the squad – and even the more senior ones – will be profusely beneficial going forward. Chelsea also raided Atletico Madrid for their left-back Filipe Luis. With the departure of neutral fan favourite (ahem) Ashley Cole, another top class left-back was required. Luis had a great season last year and was instrumental in Atletico’s transformation into a major contender at European level. There’s also the small matter of Cesc Fabregas’ return to the Premier League. Whilst he had some fiercely positive displays for Barca, he was never really able to assert himself as a consistent regular. Already providing a spectacular pass in the opening game to help create a goal against Burnley, Fabregas is another top class option to have within Chelsea’s midfield. This may disjoint the progression of Oscar, or it may spurn him on to try harder to reclaim his place in the middle of the park for Chelsea.

Out of the two clubs, Chelsea’s signings naturally stand out more. They have already hit the ground running in their opening games and will be expecting stellar performances like that for the rest of this year. However, places are far less secure at Stamford Bridge and the demand is much higher; being a big name doesn’t ensure you’ll live up to the hype. Everton have helped secure the future of their squad and have invested sagaciously. Time will tell if either overpaid for their famed strikers or if they have turned out to be an absolute steal.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Romelu Lukaku to score the first goal against Chelsea is 7/1 with Coral.

 

 JAKE COLLINS  is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Race for Premier League Golden Boot is wide open

Will we see a new name atop the Premier League goalscoring charts this season?

Will we see a new name atop the Premier League goalscoring charts this season?

As is often the case in the summer following a World Cup, the clubs at the top of the Premier League have been busy in the transfer market.

Last year’s top four have each made a high-profile purchase or two, while some interesting business has taken place involving clubs further down the table. And with last season’s top goalscorer Luis Suárez now plying his trade abroad (well he will be once his worldwide ban is over), the stage is set for a new name to lay claim to the Golden Boot.

 

Premier League Outright Betting Odds:

Chelsea – 37/20

Manchester City – 2/1

Manchester United – 19/4

Arsenal – 6/1

Liverpool – 9/1

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Will one of the big names top the charts in 2014/15, or will an unlikely contender rise to the top? Here are just a few in with a shot at the Golden Boot (all odds courtesy of Coral are accurate as of today and subject to change).

 

Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) – 7/2

The Argentinean forward struggled with injuries last season but still managed to score 17 goals in 23 league appearances. After heartbreak in the World Cup final, Agüero will look to reignite the partnership with Álvaro Negredo which played a huge part in Manuel Pellegrini’s side winning the Premier League last season.

 

Robin van Persie (Manchester United) – 9/2

Van Persie endured a frustrating campaign under David Moyes last season, but looked reinvigorated at the World Cup under incoming Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal. With a coach who may be prepared to play to the 30-year-old’s strengths rather than marginalising him to accommodate Wayne Rooney, van Persie could be on course for a third Golden Boot in four years.

 

Diego Costa (Chelsea) – 11/2

Many believe Chelsea would have won the Premier League last season with a prolific striker, and indeed Costa’s 27 goals helped fire Atlético Madrid to an unlikely La Liga title. With Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o both departing, responsibility will lie with the Spain international to justify José Mourinho’s decision to meet the striker’s £32m release clause.

 

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) – 11/2

With Suárez moving to Barcelona, there will be more pressure than ever on the man who finished second in the goalscoring charts in the last campaign. Sturridge looked like the complete forward at times last season, but time will tell whether the exit of his strike partner and the added pressure of Champions League football will take their toll.

 

Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – 18/1

Lukaku became Everton’s record signing after completing his £28m move last night, and will look to build on the 15 goals he scored on loan at the Merseyside club last season. With fellow frontman Arouna Koné returning from injury, Belgian international Lukaku could benefit from not needing to carry goalscoring responsibility all on his own.

 

Roberto Soldado (Tottenham) – 50/1

Much was expected of Soldado when he briefly became Tottenham’s record signing last summer, but the Spaniard struggled in the league under both André Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood. The former Real Madrid youngster will hope this season has more in common with his final year in Spain with Valencia, as new coach Mauricio Pochettino looks to mount a challenge for the top four.

 

Graziano Pellè (Southampton) – 80/1

While much of the talk this summer has surrounded the players leaving Southampton, one of the new arrivals at St Mary’s could make a transitional season a whole lot easier. Italian striker Pellè scored 50 goals in the last two seasons for Feyenoord, and it is no surprise that his Eredivisie coash Ronald Koeman brought the 29-year-old with him to the south coast.

 —

This season Coral has introduced a new way to bet, SuperLive by Metric Gaming. Bet on hundreds of new in-play micro markets such as whether a player will score from the next free-kick, or whether there will be a goal within 60 seconds of the next set piece.

Unfamiliar with fractional odds? Let our odds calculation guide help you out

 

tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of    sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter or Google+.

Manchester City to seize second chance in title race

City are finally at full-strength in attack, and at the perfect time

City are finally at full-strength in attack, and at the perfect time

Over the course of the last two months, the upper hand in the Premier League title race has passed back and forth on an almost weekly basis with seemingly no one wanting to hang onto it for too long. A larger-scale Scott Sinclair, if you will.

Sinclair’s parent club Manchester City are currently odds-on favourites to win the league for the second time in three years, though Liverpool and Chelsea have also been shorter than evens to seal the deal.

Now City’s fate is once again in their own hands, though tomorrow’s trip to Everton is their toughest remaining test – their other remaining opponents, Aston Villa and West Ham, are both winless since March.

 

Everton v Manchester City Betting Odds:

Everton win – 4.40

Manchester City win – 1.70

Draw – 3.75

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Everton are still in the race for Champions League qualification, and a win would keep the pressure on Arsenal ahead of the Gunners’ game against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday afternoon. However recent defeats to Crystal Palace and Southampton mean Roberto Martinez’s side are likely to fall short.

They will crucially be without Gareth Barry for Saturday’s game, with the England international midfielder ineligible to play against his parent club. The Toffees have one only one of the five games in which Barry has not featured, and his absence could see Ross Barkley’s impact lessened if the 20-year-old is moved into a deeper role.

City, meanwhile, are stronger on paper than they have been for much of the season. Manuel Pellegrini’s hand has often been forced when it comes to selecting his front two, but with Sergio Agüero, Álvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetić and Edin Džeko all fit and available for selection, the Chilean has an embarrassment of riches.

 

The Sky Blues know all too well about throwing it away from a dominating position – after catching Manchester United in 2012 they famously needed two late goals on the final day of the season to record a title-clinching win over 10-man QPR – and a number of the current squad will be keen to ensure this year’s finish is far more comfortable.

Last week’s defeat at home to Chelsea felt like a body blow for Liverpool, and while there’s an outside chance of City slipping up in their final two games, Brendan Rodgers’ side will know their best hope of their first title in 24 years hangs on their fiercest rivals doing them a favour this weekend.

 

If any of this weekend’s Premier League games ends goalless then GR88.com will refund selected pre-match bets on that particular game. The offer extends to the top divisions in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, and more information can be found here.

 

Betting Instinct tip – With Pellegrini’s side scoring at least twice in each of their last five games, back City to win and score two or more goals, at 2.73 with GR88.com.

 

tvTOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of  sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.

Arsenal favourites to reach Wembley at the expense of Everton

Mesut Özil puts Arsenal 1-0 up in the 1-1 draw at The Emirates in December

Mesut Özil puts Arsenal 1-0 up in the 1-1 draw at The Emirates in December

It’s FA Cup Quarter Final weekend this Saturday and Sunday as the final eight sides in the oldest and most prestigious club football competition in the world battle to play at Wembley in the Semi Finals and then, hopefully, the Final.

The four game schedule is kicked off on Saturday lunchtime with the clash of Arsenal v Everton at The Emirates in North London as the sides sitting third and sixth in the Premier League compete for a game in the final four stage. GR88.com favour a home win, but will The Gunners live up to this favourites billing?

Arsenal v Everton FA Cup Odds:

Arsenal – 1.79

Draw – 3.25

Everton – 4.10

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Like the odds suggest this match promises to be a close match and recent clashes between the teams have proven the sides to be close in on pitch performances as all of the last eight matches have seen either draws or one goal victories. This pattern goes back to 2009 when Arsenal travelled to Goodison Park early in the 2009/10 season and thumped Everton 6-1, with Everton’s consolation goal coming in injury time at the end of the match.

Arsenal have won four and drawn four of these eight matches and are unbeaten against Everton in 13 fixtures, while it has been 18 years since Everton last won away against Arsenal. That came with a 2-1 victory at Highbury in January 1996. Despite this poor record the last three matches, including the last two at The Emirates, have ended level so will this FA Cup match be the end of Arsenal’s dominance over the Toffees?

In reality, it is unlikely as only World and European champions Bayern Munich have defeated Arsenal at the Emirates in 15 matches and they required a red card for Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny before they were able to make the breakthrough on the night. Arsenal have won 11 of the other 14 matches on home soil in all competitions since losing to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup in October, including bouncing back from the Bayern loss with a 4-1 beating of Sunderland.

Everton’s away form of late has seen them slip down the table as they lost the last three away games to Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea without scoring a goal and they have beaten only League One Stevenage on the road in 2014. The three losses saw a 4-0 defeat in the Merseyside Derby, but losing 1-0 in London twice.

I feel that the corresponding differences between the side’s home and away forms will see Arsenal win this match, but only just as Everton are certainly not a side to give in easily despite their run of losses. Everton defend well and it took a late, late goal for Chelsea to beat them at Stamford Bridge but I see Arsenal just being the more ruthless of the sides and booking their place at Wembley with a one goal victory.

Back Arsenal to beat Everton in this FA Cup Quarter Final game @ 1.79 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Chelsea can’t afford too many more stalemates

Everton's Tim Howard is chasing back-to-back clean sheets against Chelsea

Everton’s Tim Howard is chasing back-to-back clean sheets against Chelsea

With 12 games remaining in the Premier League season (or 13 for four of the league’s 20 teams), José Mourinho’s Chelsea sit at the summit of an increasingly congested top four.

The London club are unbeaten in their 13 games at Stamford Bridge, with title challengers Arsenal, ManchesterCity and Liverpool each suffering one home defeat so far this term, and the quartet know that any slip-up between now and the end of the season could be costly.

Chelsea v Everton Betting Odds:

Chelsea win – 1.55

Draw – 3.70

Everton win – 6.00

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

They have failed to score in only five of their 26 outings so far, including away games at Arsenal and Manchester United which they seemed to enter in the knowledge that a goalless draw would be satisfactory.

The other three include the home draw against West Ham, in which the hosts found visiting goalkeeper Adrián in imperious form, and an away match in November when they had the misfortune of getting in the way of Newcastle’s annual ‘can they keep this going? No, of course not, they’re managed by Alan Pardew’ terrifying run of form.

But it is the fifth of these five shutouts which comes to the fore this weekend, as Mourinho’s men host an Everton outfit looking to record their first league double over Chelsea in the Premier League era.

Questions were asked about the capabilities of Everton’s new manager Roberto Martinez before the season, and when the two sides met in September the jury was still out, with the Toffees having drawn their first three games.

However a 1-0 win through Steven Naismith’s goal settled any nagging doubts and put the Merseysiders on course for a solid season where they have in many ways pushed on from the David Moyes era, outshining their former manager in both entertainment and league position.

Scottish forward Naismith might have seemed an unlikely goalscorer, but this fixture has had a habit over the years of thrusting lesser names into the limelight. Former Everton prodigies Francis Jeffers and Danny Cadamarteri have both scored against Chelsea in the Premier League (Cadamarteri did it twice!), while one of Sam Dalla Bona’s six Chelsea goals came at GoodisonPark.

However with Chelsea conceding just nine times at home this campaign and Everton’s 14 away goals representing a lower total than 17th-placed West Bromwich Albion, I would not be surprised if this is another low-scoring game, however one goal could well be enough for the home side.

And at GR88.com, a fourth goalless draw of the season for Chelsea means money back on losing pre-match scorecast, correct score or half-time/full-time bets at GR88.com. Details of the Nil-Nil Money Back Offer can be found in GR88’s ‘promotions’ section.

Betting Instinct Tip: Under 1.5 goals is 3.50 with GR88.com

tvTOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.

The closest ‘Friendly Derby’ for years

Luis Suarez (right) takes on Everton’s Sylvain Distin

On Tuesday the 28th of January, Liverpool and Everton will partake in what – on paper at least – is set to be one of the most tightly contested Merseyside Derbies in years. Liverpool currently sit uncomfortably in 4th, whilst Everton lay in 6th only one point behind their local rivals. With Spurs playing Man City on the following day, both of these sides will see this as a game of magnanimous proportions and that fire will only be fuelled by their ongoing claims to be the best team from Liverpool.

Liverpool v Everton Betting Odds

Liverpool to win – 1.75

Draw – 3.70

Everton to win – 4.20

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The reverse fixture made for wonderful viewing to the neutral (though not to any Liverpool/Everton fans of a nervous disposition). Ending 3-3, it marked the goal-scoring return of Daniel Sturridge and the emergence of Roberto Martinez’s Everton as a free-flowing football side worthy of Liverpool’s respect.

Liverpool go into this off the back of a couple of very lacklustre performances. The goals have been flowing freely at times for The Reds this season, but so have the goals against them. Their defence has looked incredibly vulnerable and they were lucky to keep a clean sheet against Championship side Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round.

What I consider their strongest back 4 (Johnson, Agger, Sakho and Enrique)  is currently depleted by injury, and holding midfielders (Lucas and Allen) who offer that extra bit of protection from oncoming attacks, are also on the sidelines.

Fortunately, they have a very potent attack. Suarez and Sturridge are as good as any front two in European football and Kop fans will hope their blossoming chemistry continues to flourish. Everton are 2nd in the clean sheet league, with 9 to their name so Liverpool will have to take their chances in front of goal. Winger Raheem Sterling is in a productive run of form at present; 4 goals this season and a couple of assists in the Premiership may seem relatively modest, but it’s all too easy to forget he is the tender age of 19 . Meanwhile Steven Gerrard playing in the holding role has made him look half the player we know he is, and Everton will look to exploit this with their pace in midfield so it will be vital for Liverpool’s number 8 to have his positional sense finely tuned.

Everton have a few injury problems of their own. The loss of buccaneering fullback Seamus Coleman will be a blow to their wing-play and the energetic Barkley – who has made a huge contribution to their season – also misses this one. Barcelona youth product Gerard Deulofeu can offer something a bit different, but will also be forced to sit this one out.

Fortunately for the Toffees, top scorer Romelu Lukaku remains in the fold. Lukaku is a fantastic player already and still has 5-6 years to hit his peak as a footballer. Far too often, his immense physical strength makes people overlook the fact that he is very capable of playing precise passes, as well as decent balls into the box and exquisite finishes. They looked a little complacent in their draw with West Brom last week, but certainly won’t need any extra motivation for this one.

The formidable Anfield crowd ought to give Liverpool that slight edge, but as we saw in the reverse fixture, any lead taken will be an extremely precarious one. If Everton are able to break wide and get balls into the box, then I strongly expect them to bag a couple of goals.

Liverpool’s Cissokho is seen by some as a weak link and it’s a shame for Everton that Coleman won’t have the chance to run at him to whip the ball into the box. Still, I expect them to exploit Liverpool’s left hand side and try to feed Lukaku aerially.

The home side’s goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has shown a weakness with crosses in recent week and both Skrtel and Toure (the likely starting partnership) aren’t the most convincing in the air either. Jagielka and Distin are having possibly their best seasons for the Blues, but I think that deadly combination of Suarez’s trickery and Sturridge’s pace will undo them too many times. My prediction? Liverpool to win by a solitary goal. Genuinely, I think this game depends more on how Liverpool defend than anything else. They’ve only failed to score once in the league this year (a surprise defeat to Southampton) and I expect them to really put Everton’s back-line to the sword.

Betting Instinct Tip – Liverpool to win 2-1 is 8.00 with GR88.com

JAKE COLLINS is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog.